|Publication number||US6918405 B2|
|Application number||US 10/727,716|
|Publication date||Jul 19, 2005|
|Filing date||Dec 4, 2003|
|Priority date||Dec 4, 2003|
|Also published as||US20050126633|
|Publication number||10727716, 727716, US 6918405 B2, US 6918405B2, US-B2-6918405, US6918405 B2, US6918405B2|
|Original Assignee||Alfmeier Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (89), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (18), Classifications (12), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to a valve assembly for a fuel tank. More specifically, the invention is directed to a fill limit vent valve assembly that seals to prevent overfilling the fuel tank and reopens at a predetermined pressure to permit fuel tank venting.
Modern vehicles require fuel management systems that control fuel vapor venting from a vehicle fuel tank to limit fuel filling and that control fuel tank ventilation to prevent overpressure and vacuum conditions in the fuel tank. Fuel vapor can be created in the fuel tank by temperature differences between the fuel tank and liquid fuel from a fuel pump, as well as by sloshing and agitation of the fuel tank during normal vehicle operation. The pressure buildup resulting from the creation of new fuel vapors must be relieved properly. For this reason, many fuel management systems are equipped with tank venting control assemblies capable of discharging a relatively large amount of fuel vapor in response to the development of high-pressure conditions in the fuel tank.
In addition to providing for adequate fuel vapor discharge from the fuel tank during high tank pressure conditions, well-designed tank pressure control assemblies must be capable of responding to a reduction of pressure in the fuel tank to or below a predetermined level. Introducing ambient air into the fuel tank to bring the fuel vapor pressure in the fuel tank back to approximately atmospheric pressure usually relieves these tank vacuum conditions.
In addition to controlling vapor escape, well-designed “On-Board Refueling Vapor Recovery” systems or (ORVR) systems assist in controlling the amount of liquid fuel that can be pumped into the fuel tank during refueling. For safety reasons, fuel systems are designed so that the fuel tank is never completely filled with liquid fuel. Rather, at least a predetermined portion of the space inside the fuel tank is left for liquid fuel and fuel vapor expansion. Although fuel pump nozzles typically include sensors for shutting off the flow of liquid fuel into the fuel tank when the fuel tank is nearly filled, fuel pump users may manually override the sensors by continuing to pump fuel after the sensors have automatically and temporarily shut the pump nozzle off. To assist in preventing tank overfill under such conditions, an ORVR system is usually provided with a “fill-limit” control system, which assists in triggering the nozzle shut-off mechanism when the level of liquid fuel in the fuel tank has risen to a predetermined level.
Conventional valve assemblies designed to meet the foregoing requirements include pressure-relief, over-fill, and/or rollover components. Typically, the valve assemblies include a sealing element made of a plastic, hard rubber, or other elastomeric material. The conventional sealing element presses against a portion of the valve assembly under fuel vapor pressure, gravity, or the like in order to seal the valve assembly. Although undesirable, the sealing element is more often than not in contact with the valve assembly due to vehicle vibrations and fuel sloshing. Over time, the recurring sealing action and repeated exposure to vehicle vibrations and fuel tank pressures can flatten and wear down edges of an elastomeric sealing element. Moreover, that portion of the valve assembly contacted and sealed by the sealing element can prematurely deteriorate. For instance, the contacted portion of the conventional valve assembly will often develop an unwanted indentation due to the repeated contact with the sealing element.
Eventual deformation of the sealing element and the contacted portion of the valve assembly adversely affects the sealing capacity of the valve assembly. It will be appreciated, for instance, that impaired sealing can degrade the rollover function of the vehicle fuel system. Specifically, a deformed sealing element in a rollover situation can permit fuel to leak past an outlet of the valve assembly to a fuel vapor recovery canister or directly to the atmosphere external to the vehicle, which may create a fire or explosion hazard.
A fill-limit and tank ventilation control system is needed that vents fuel vapor from the vapor space in a fuel tank during early stages of refueling but blocks introduction of any and all liquid fuel in excess of a maximum volume so as to preserve a minimum volume of the vapor space in the fuel tank once the fuel tank is filled to its maximum capacity with fuel. Ideally, this fill-limit and tank ventilation control system could be included as one component in a comprehensive ORVR vehicle fuel system to manage fuel vapor recovery during all phases of vehicle use. One attempt to address this requirement is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/260,722, filed Sep. 30, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,758,235. However, a relatively uncomplicated ORVR system design is needed in which the sealing elements are in a spaced-apart arrangement such that the sealing elements touch only during specific fuel conditions to prevent undesirable wear and tear on the sealing elements.
The present invention provides a fill limit vent valve (FLVV) assembly for a fuel tank that selectively seals to prevent overfilling of a fuel tank and during a rollover condition to prevent leakage of fuel. Moreover, the FLVV assembly reopens at a predetermined pressure after filling the fuel tank to permit fuel tank venting. The component parts of the FLVV assembly are simple and economical to manufacture, assemble, and use. Other advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description and the attached drawings, or can be learned through practice of the invention.
According to one aspect of the invention, a FLVV assembly is provided for attachment in an aperture of a fuel tank wall. The FLVV assembly includes a cover or a cap member, a valve housing, a first stage sealing mechanism (carrier stage), and a second stage sealing mechanism (float stage). The carrier and float stage sealing mechanisms are operably located in the valve housing.
In another aspect of the invention, a nozzle in a cap member of a FLVV assembly is non-linear. The circuitous nozzle provides additional protection against liquid fuel splash into a fuel vapor recovery device.
The FLVV assemblies of the various embodiments are generally subject to six valve assembly conditions. By way of example operation, in a first valve assembly condition the FLVV assembly permits substantially unrestricted fuel vapor venting from the fuel tank through the valve housing and the nozzle into the fuel vapor recovery device. During fuel filling, the FLVV assembly transitions to a second valve assembly condition marked by an initial sealing action of the sealing mechanisms.
At a normal rate of fueling, liquid fuel enters the valve housing in a third valve assembly condition and buoys the carrier and float stage sealing mechanisms in a direction of the cap member. In this third valve assembly condition, the valve assembly is sealed to prevent fuel vapor discharge.
In a fourth valve assembly condition, the float stage recedes from the carrier stage to permit increased fuel vapor discharge. However, the carrier stage continues to prevent unrestricted fuel vapor discharge.
According to its predetermined design, the carrier stage releases at a predetermined pressure in a fifth valve assembly condition to permit unrestricted fuel vapor discharge. In a sixth valve assembly condition, the FLVV assembly transitions to a resting position and returns to the first valve assembly condition.
Other aspects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description and the attached drawings, or can be learned through practice of the invention.
The above and other aspects and advantages of the present invention are apparent from the detailed description below and in combination with the drawings in which:
Detailed reference will now be made to the drawings in which examples embodying the present invention are shown. The detailed description uses numerical and letter designations to refer to features in the drawings. Like or similar designations in the drawings and description have been used to refer to like or similar parts of the invention.
The drawings and detailed description provide a full and detailed written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, so as to enable one skilled in the pertinent art to make and use it, as well as the best mode of carrying out the invention. However, the examples set forth in the drawings and detailed description are provided by way of explanation of the invention and are not meant as limitations of the invention. The present invention thus includes any modifications and variations of the following examples as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.
As broadly embodied in the Figures, a fill limit vent valve (FLVV) assembly or apparatus is provided to limit fuel overfilling of a fuel tank by an operator and to control ventilation of the fuel tank in response to overpressure and vacuum conditions within the fuel tank. The FLVV assembly generally includes a vent module having a two-stage sealing mechanism operably disposed in a valve housing. The components of the FLVV assembly, described in detail below, and their placement and dimensions are modifiable to accommodate various fuel tank sizes and manufacturing requirements and are not limited to only those examples shown in the Figures.
A first embodiment of the FLVV assembly, designated by the number 10, is shown in
With particular reference to
Also shown in
As shown in
As further shown in
The cage 24 further includes a plurality of notches or an annular ledge 28 to catch and support a plurality of first projections 36 depending from the carrier 34. The projections 36 of the carrier 34 are arranged to catch on the ledge 28 in a first valve assembly condition (unrestricted fuel vapor venting) to limit downward travel of the carrier 34 according to an exemplary operation below.
As shown most clearly in
As shown in
The sealing element 40 in
Also shown in detail in
With further reference to
The float 54 further defines a stem 58 that in conjunction with the ring 56 moveably retains the pivot pin 66. The stem 58 defines a dome-shaped or rounded point-bearing surface 58 a on which the pivot pin 66 tiltably rides. A gap 60 is defined between the ring 56 and the stem 58. As described in operation below, the stem 58 and the gap 60 permit the pivot pin 66 a limited range of motion to assist in aligning the pivot pin 66 and the first seal 42.
The float 54 also includes a float guide 62, which is guided by the guide channel 82 in the valve housing 68 during displacement of the float 54. As noted above, the cage 24 and the guide channel 82 cooperate to permit stable guidance of the float 54. In this aspect, the float guide 62 and the guide channel 82 are of sufficient length that the float 54 is laterally stable in the valve housing 68 during all valve conditions. It will be appreciated that the guide channel 82 can be multiple guide channels disposed in the valve housing 68 in which a respective number of float guides depending from the float 54 are guided. Further details of these components are not necessary to appreciate and practice this aspect of the invention.
With further reference to the pivot pin 66 as shown in
The pivot pin 66 further defines a first contact surface 66 b that is substantially flat in this example. As noted above, the first contact surface 66 b tiltably rides on the domed stem surface 58 a bounded by the stem 58 and the gap 60. In operation, the first contact surface 66 b tiltably aligns the pivot pin 66 relative to the first seal 42, and the second contact surface 66 c seals against the first seal 42. Due to cooperation of the point-bearing stem surface 58 a and the relatively flat first contact surface 66 b, alignment and sealing of the second contact surface 66 c against the first seal 42 occurs regardless of vehicle or FLVV assembly 10 orientations.
Also shown in
The valve housing 68 shown in
Under normal refueling conditions, the holes 72 allow the float 54 as well as the internal liquid fuel F′ in the cavity 84 and a fuel F external to the valve housing 68 to rise substantially equally or at an even rate (see, e.g.,
As shown in
The fuel window 74 also includes a shutoff edge 78. The shutoff edge 78 is spaced vertically apart from the fuel entry edge 76 at a height H′ about 1 mm to about 4 mm above height H in a direction of the cap member 12. Optimally, once the fuel F reaches the shutoff edge 78 of the fuel window 74, fuel filling will shut off within +/−3 mm, and preferably no later than at about a time the fuel F reaches the shutoff edge 78.
The valve housing 68 in
The fuel shutoff edge 78 introduced above also acts as an inspection window to view the carrier and float stages 32,52 in the cavity 84 behind the guard 80. The guard 80 is sufficiently wide to guard against substantial liquid fuel splash as described above, but still allows inspection of the carrier and float stages 32,52. Moreover, the window 74 can be directed opposite of an inlet check valve (not shown) of the fuel tank T to avoid direct fuel splash on the carrier and float stages 32,52 during refueling in order to guard against premature shutoff due to insufficient venting.
The invention may be better understood with reference to an exemplary operation as shown in
As introduced above, the pivot pin 66 and the ring 56 cooperate to create a lower pressure in that part of the cavity 84 above the ledge 28 of the cage 24. More specifically, the ring 56 slidably contacts an inner surface 34 f of the carrier 34 to periodically, temporarily form the pressure chamber 39 in the carrier 34 in the third and fourth valve assembly conditions. In these third and fourth fuel valve assembly conditions, the temporary pressure chamber 39 develops a pressure of about 0.5 to about 0.95 of the pressure in the fuel tank T. Thus, for example, when the fuel tank T is at about 9.5–11.5 kilopascals (kPa), the pressure chamber 39 is at about 5–11 kPa, more particularly 8 kPa. Comparatively, an atmosphere above the nozzle 14 is at about 0 kPa. Therefore, reopening of the float stage 52 is based in part on a pressure differential of about 8 kPa in the chamber 39 and 0 kPa in the atmosphere instead of a greater, typical differential of 0 kPa and 10 kPa between the respective atmosphere and fuel tank.
With further reference to
In another embodiment of the invention shown in
As shown in
While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, those skilled in the art will recognize that other changes and modifications may be made to the foregoing embodiments without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. For example, specific pressures and dimensions are set forth for current applications and industry regulations and specific shapes of various elements of the illustrated embodiments may be altered to suit particular applications. It is intended to claim all such changes and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. Moreover, references herein to “top,” “lower,” “bottom,” “upward,” “downward,” “descending,” “ascending,” and “side” structures, elements and geometries and the like are intended solely for purposes of providing an enabling disclosure and in no way suggest limitations regarding the operative orientation of the exemplary embodiments or any components thereof.
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|U.S. Classification||137/202, 137/43|
|International Classification||B60K15/035, F16K24/04|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10T137/0874, B60K2015/03576, Y10T137/3099, B60K15/03519, B60K2015/03571, F16K24/044|
|European Classification||F16K24/04B1, B60K15/035C|
|Dec 2, 2003||AS||Assignment|
|Dec 19, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jan 2, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8